At Charlee's House . . . 8/94

In August 1994, Stephanie Byram and photographer Charlee Brodsky sat on the back porch of Brodsky's house in Pittsburgh, PA and discussed their photo project about Byram's recovery from breast cancer surgery in May 1993. The interviewer is David Demarest.

Demarest: Why don't you two talk about why you started doing the project? What were your motives?

Stephanie: My first motive was running. I knew I was going to be running in all of those Races for the Cure, and I wanted to send each race kind of like a press packet or a press kit. So at the Christmas party last December, I approached Charlee and asked her if she would be willing to do a few press-type photos for me. And she said "sure."

Charlee: You came over a couple of months later and we started doing the shoot.

Stephanie: With the New Balance hat and the t-shirts.

Charlee: Then Stephanie said, "Do you want to see the scars?" Her eyes turned quite serious -- the eyes were no longer talking. It was almost as though I wasn't there anymore. These were probably the most direct photographs we've done in all our sessions.

Stephanie: In fact, I rather dislike these direct photos because to me they're very reminiscent of the Matuschka style -- in your face. Matuschka makes a very political statement, and there's a place for that. But I want to make an emotional statement. Matuschka's approach is very shocking to the viewer. I want to involve or engage the viewer in a very personal way rather than in a confrontative way. And to me, these images of my bare chest are very confrontative.

Charlee: I agree. They're also very clinical. I chose to cut the eyes off here almost to depersonalize it more. Like it's not an individual.

Stephanie: These others of me -- the "Venus images" -- are personal. They are an image of how beautiful my body is. The confrontative images don't seem beautiful to me.

Charlee: In the Venus series, we thought about Stephanie doing a complete turn in front of the camera. So these could be a long sequence of images. This project is a complex one. I want to try to do many different kinds of photographs. This might be a collage, there might be hand-colored photos. I'm using different techniques. More than any other project I've ever worked on, I really want a voice -- this person -- to come out. I want people to think about you and your situation. Especially women -- make them think about themselves.

Stephanie: I hope so.

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Cancer Destroys
Photo Essay
Photographs copyright Charlee Brodsky 1996. Text copyright Stephanie Byram 1996. All rights reserved.